A new app-based system has been launched that aims to “shake up” the customer service industry across shops, banks and other venues.
The Welcome app lets people with disabilities tell shops and venues of their arrival, so that staff can provide tailored assistance suited to their condition.
Designed by assistive technology company Neatebox, the free app is a two-way platform between users and customer service teams. Users tell staff, via the app, that they will be visiting a venue and flag up useful information or specific requirements they have, such as needing assistance with a wheelchair or that they will be bringing a guide dog.
GPS tracking lets staff know exactly when the customer arrives, and the app also provides links to useful information about various impairments, supplied by charities and specialist organisations; the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Guide Dogs have both provided information for the app.
The system only works with venues that have signed-up, but users are encouraged to request new venues within the app. Neatebox founder Gavin Neate told e-Access Bulletin that a “massive part” of the system is the team approaching venues identified by the user community: “I guarantee that if someone downloads the app now and requests a venue they would like to see using it, we will contact that venue within a week at most,” Neate said.
Venues that have signed up so far include Edinburgh Airport, hotels, shops, cafes, tourist attractions and the Royal Bank of Scotland, where the app has been installed at the company’s headquarters in the hope of demonstrating its benefits for more widespread use.
At present, venues are mainly in Scotland, where Neatebox is based, but users can request locations anywhere. Requests have been received for venues in Northern Ireland, Devon and London, as well as the United States, Canada and New Zealand. The app isn’t yet available outside of the UK, but this isn’t being ruled out.
Neate said that he believes Welcome can “shake up” customer services. “With more and more older people and people with specific needs, industries need to seriously look at the service they provide. Whether industries are aware of it or not, they have a whole new world coming towards them,” Neate said.
A former guide dog mobility instructor, Neate started Neatebox to help find a solution for problems that some of his visually impaired clients had when operating pedestrian crossings. This solution became Button, a system that allows a user’s mobile phone to automatically ‘push’ buttons at pedestrian crossings as they approach, using Bluetooth. This simplifies the process for those who may find it difficult to operate the crossings – for example, someone who is blind or using a wheelchair.
Crossings need to have simple hardware installed in them for the Button system to work, but as with the Welcome app, users can request locations and Neatebox will contact requested local authorities. The company is already working with some councils to install the technology. The system has already been installed throughout the town of Largs, on the West Coast of Scotland.
To download the Welcome app and find out more, visit the Neatebox website: